Cambridge students to return to university as normal in January

Students are being encouraged to return from the 16th of January

An email today from the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Stephen Toope has confirmed that University of Cambridge students are expected to return to Cambridge largely as normal at the start of Lent term.

Undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are being encouraged to return to Cambridge during the weekend of 16th and 17th January, meaning all students will be back in time for the beginning of Full Lent term, commencing on the 19th January.

This follows a government announcement that some students at University might not be able to return until 7th February.

The university has encouraged students to return using private transport where possible and to avoid using public transport during peak times.

The university’s asymptomatic testing scheme is expected to restart on the 18th January, with testing being extended to students in both College and private accommodation, whereas this term only students in college accommodation were eligible for testing.

This follows the news that last week’s Covid-19 asymptomatic screening programme detected zero cases of Covid-19 among the over 10,000 students tested, with only six symptomatic cases being detected.

Under DfE guidance, in-person teaching for most students will only start from the 25th January, with both lectures and small group teaching taking place remotely during this period. However, in-person teaching can take place from the 18th January, or earlier in exceptional cases, for students undertaking lab work or practicals.

Meanwhile, students needing to return for placements will be able to do so from 4th January, as will students who are unable to study away from Cambridge. Postgraduate research students are also able to return to Cambridge whenever they are able to do so.

The email confirmed that international students are not required to change travel plans to which they have already committed.

For students who have already returned to Cambridge, additional asymptomatic Covid-19 tests will be made available from 11th January.

The email also said that the University “expect[s] in-person teaching to continue to take place over the Lent term where appropriate, although no member of staff will be required to undertake such teaching. Where in-person teaching does take place, all necessary measures will be put in place to ensure that such teaching is COVID-secure, including hand-washing, use of face coverings and good ventilation.”

The university “expect[s] most exams and assessments scheduled for January to be online.”

The University has confirmed that “there will be no change to our remote study protocol”. However, they are asking “any student who is self-isolating not to travel to Cambridge until the period of self-isolation has ended. Nor, on any account, should students return if they are symptomatic.” These students “will be given permission for remote study until it is appropriate for them to return to Cambridge.”

The email also cautioned that “until returning students have received a negative test result, it is especially important that they are cautious in their social interactions.”

These guiding principles are being kept under review, and are subject to change. Further details on the university’s plans for testing, including eligibility, will be published on the Stay Safe Cambridge Uni pages shortly and sent out via the Colleges.

Feature Image credits: Ella Fogg